GIS Day at the Penn Libraries

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GIS Day at the Penn Libraries

Penn Libraries celebrates the annual GIS Day event by hosting a diverse group of activities on campus. GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. Celebrating GIS Day can also be an excellent opportunity to foster greater geospatial awareness across all disciplines on campus, and within the community.

GIS DAY 2021

This year, Penn libraries hosted a virtual GIS Day event for a third year in a row featuring a Keynote talk on November 17th and a line up of events including workshops/tutorials, presentations, lightning talks, and project demos on November 16, 17, and 18.


Title: Opportunities and Challenges for Machine Learning with Historical Maps
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm | Video link:

Speakers: Rachel Trent, Digital Collections and Automation Coordinator, and Meagan Snow, Geospatial Data Visualization Librarian, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress
Abstract:  The Geography & Map Division at the Library of Congress is one of the world’s largest map collections, with over 5 million items documenting narratives of environmental, urban, industrial, military, and colonial history. Changes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and machine learning (ML) technologies have opened new possibilities for the scale and scope of what can be accomplished with these collections. In this talk, G & M will discuss some of the ways machine learning is being applied to historical map collections and the challenges, considerations, and opportunities that may await researchers interested in bringing centuries of the world’s maps into the present.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

1:00 pm - 1:09 pm, Jane E Dmochowski and Henry Feldman: Cobbs Creek Community Science Remote Sensing Project. (Video link:)
Abstract: We are developing a community environmental science remote sensing project, focused on the West Philadelphia community and the Cobbs Creek Watershed, that will utilize Google Earth Engine. We will present our preliminary outline of the project, and the lesson plans we are developing for high school students to increase student interest and knowledge in order to have the project be community-driven.

1:10 pm - 1:15 pm, Samuel Kaufmann: Aggregating Climate and Security Data to Inform Policymakers. (Video link: )
Abstract: Most governments recognize that climate change has the potential to threaten international security, but this "climate security" idea is still not fully accepted in the international community, in part due to a lack of detailed evidence to support practical policy tools. Our project intends to help fill that gap by providing a "one-stop shop" website that aggregates data on a variety of climate and security-related topics and allows users to easily compare, learn about, and download datasets.

1:16 pm - 1:31 pm, Shuning Ge: Inclusive Refugee-hosting in Uganda Improves Local Development and Prevents Public Backlash. (Video link:)
Abstract: Large arrivals of refugees raise concerns about potential tensions between the new migrants and host communities. Past work has mostly focused exclusively on rich western democracies finding that proximity and exposure to migrants has had mostly negative effects on host community. By exploring data on public goods provision (schools, health facilities, educational inputs), roads, and night-time light density from different sources across 20 years, we found that the story is different in Uganda who’s hosting over 1 million refugees with unusually friendly migration policy.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021 | 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm | Visualizing Space with StoryMaps | Video link
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm | Visualizing Space with Leaflet | Video link: 
Thursday, November 18, 2021 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Visualizing Space with ArcGIS/QGIS | Video link: 

GIS DAY 2020

Held on November 18, this day-long virtual GIS Day event included hands-on workshops/tutorials, synchronous presentations and asynchronous lightning talks, and a round table on the ethics of mapping and GIS.


COVID-LAB: Mapping COVID-19 in Your Community. Vicky Tam, Senior GIS analyst, Healthcare Analytics Unit (HAU) at PolicyLab and The Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
MAPPING WWII PARIS - Mapping & VR for a Language and Culture Course. Mélanie Péron, Senior Lecturer, French and Francophone Studies Department, and Associate director of the Penn-in-Tours summer program, University of Pennsylvania


GIS DAY 2019

This day-long on-site event held on November 13th featured various activities including hands-on demonstration of the Map Room project (link), lightning talks, and presentations from across the campus GIS community. 

About the Author

Girmaye Misgna
Girmaye Misgna
Mapping & Geospatial Data Librarian
Girmaye provides research consultation and training services to faculty, staff, and students who are engaging with spatial methods, bringing deep technical expertise in both GIS and Mapping application development to that work. He enjoys the daily interaction with the campus community across all disciplines and the everyday new learning experience associated with it.

Girmaye supports faculty and students who are engaging with spatial methods, bringing deep technical expertise in both GIS and application development to that work.

Before coming to Penn Libraries, Girmaye was a Researcher and GIS Lab Manager in the Environmental Resources and Policy Program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has master's degrees in Geography from SIU Carbondale and in Applied Geology from Addis Ababa University.